The Art of Writing Fight Scenes by Marie Brennan

milfordsfwriters

So you’re working on a story, and it really ought to have a fight scene. But you’re sitting there thinking, “I’m not a martial artist! I’m not a member of the SCA! I have no idea how to fight!” Or maybe you’re thinking, “Fight scenes are so boring. I’d rather skip over this and get back to the actual story.” Or something else that makes you dread writing that scene, rather than looking forward to it with anticipation.

To the first group, I say: the details of how to fight are possibly the least important component of a fight scene. The crucial components are the same ones you’re already grappling with in the rest of your writing—description, pacing, characterization, all that good stuff.

To the second group, I say: it’s only boring if the author does it wrong.

A fight is part of the story. Just like any other scene…

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First Chapter Checklist by Ed McDonald

Great advice!

milfordsfwriters

Typewriter 3The first chapter of your book needs to be a bit special. All of the chapters need to be special, but Chapter 1 needs to be extra special. This is your agent-catcher. It’s the chapter where you need to hook that agent’s attention – or reader’s attention – and then keep them going. Your first chapter should be so polished that water can’t even settle on it, it just slides right off without any friction at all.

So, without further ado, here’s a checklist for your own first chapter that you might find useful to work through, to see if you’re doing common things that generally don’t work. This comes with the usual caveat that everybody’s writing process is different, and what works for me may not work for you etc… but I’d be willing to bet that if (like me with my previous 1.5 million words of novels!) you’ve…

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Writing as Drawing by David Gullen

milfordsfwriters

We all have our ways of doing things. When I’m plotting out a novel or a longer story I always start with pen and paper. I like to use my favourite fountain pen, and quartered sheets of A4.  I do something similar with a short story too, though I’ll probably just write down a few key things that anchor it. I’ll always use pen and paper.

DSCN4169There’s something about the process that works well for me, though I don’t know why. All I can say is there’s a connection between mind and eye and hand so they feel like three parts of one thing. Pen and paper stimulates and focusses my imagination and lets the ideas flow ­– though not in any order. I’ll brainstorm everything in a few sessions, one plot point, or scene, or character, or piece of dialogue per piece of paper.  I’ve found this much more…

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Constraints Are Your Friends by Sue Oke

milfordsfwriters

image collage writingHave you ever noticed that the more constraints you face in your writing, the more creative you become? I used to write a collage piece with a group of writers—just for fun, you understand. This involved the giving and receiving of short phrases from everyone in the group, so that you end up with perhaps six unrelated phrases to work with. If working alone, you can choose random words/phrases from the book you are currently reading. The challenge then is to write a piece that incorporates all the phrases within ten minutes. As an additional constraint pick one of the phrases to start and finish the piece with.

The key to this exercise is NOT TO THINK. Put pen to paper and let the words flow. DO NOT STOP WRITING during the ten minutes. Grammar and spelling are not important. You can write a load of nonsense, at this point…

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My Week at Milford

Jacey Bedford

My writing week The view from the window of my little room.

Many thanks to last week’s guest blogger Joshua Palmatier for doing a post for me while I was away at Milford SF Writers’ week in Snowdonia at the lovely Trigonos, Though they do have wi-fi there now, it tends to be intermittent, so I wasn’t sure how much connectivity I would have. Also I was working on my little Dell laptop, bought (reconditioned) for travelling. It’s nowhere near as convenient as my desktop machine which has a 23 inch monitor and a lovely clicky keyboard.

What’s Milford?

Milford is  practically an institution in it’s own right. It was started by a bunch of well known, well respected professional SF writers in Milford Pennsylvania in 1956. Damon Knight being one of the prime movers. James and Judy Blish brought it to the UK in 1972 and with only a couple of…

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Guest Blog From Joshua Palmatier

Jacey Bedford

Jacey Bedford graciously invited me to guest here at her blog today so that I could talk about the small press Zombies Need Brains and our current Kickstarter (check out tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals) attempting to fund three brand new SF&F anthologies.  I thought it might be nice to explain where the themes for these three anthologies came from.

PORTALSsmallFirst, the lead anthology, which is really my own little baby.  I grew up reading fantasy novels in the 80s, which means I read a ton of novels with characters from our world transported to another world.  Books like Andre Norton’s WITCH WORLD or Stephen Donaldson’s CHRONICLES OF THOMAS COVENANT.  There were many, many others, but I noticed that I hadn’t seen or read many “portal novels” in either fantasy or sci-fi recently.  I loved those stories, so thought, “Why not do an anthology with portals as the theme?”  Hence, PORTALS was born (although…

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The BSFA Review Issue 3

Download Issue 3 BSFA_Review_3

Subscribe to the BSFA Newsletter here to get the BSFA Review in your mailbox as soon as it comes out, and to keep up with other SF news. Also, join us on Facebook.

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Mining Experience by Jim Anderson

milfordsfwriters

PapersIn what I can only describe as a courageous decision, I spent part of a recent weekend cleaning out the drawer of half finished projects. Perhaps it was the sun. And there were more than I remembered there being. So one of the things this cleaning out has inspired me to do is to see how many of them I can convert from half finished to finished by the end of the year.

But one of the stories I found is one that I haven’t yet persuaded myself to go back to, because of how uncomfortable I felt putting it down on paper in the first place and how uncomfortable it made me when I went back and reread it. Interestingly, I hadn’t remembered all of the details and if anything, I found myself more uncomfortable reading through it, than I remember myself being when writing it.

It’s a very strange experience, being…

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Getcha luvverly ideas here! By Ben Jeapes

Some ideas to ponder…

milfordsfwriters

You know you’ve made it as an author when you’re asked the time-honoured question, “where do you get your ideas from?” There are various time-honoured responses, but Neil Gaiman in the link nails it.

In our recent house move I unearthed a very old notebook from the time when ideas just kept popping into my head. Some even made it through in recognisable form to publication. Most got no further than the notebook. The last of them is dated 3-5-93, and as I started writing His Majesty’s Starship in Christmas 1993, that means everything here predates my career as a novelist.

I will probably never do anything more with them and it would be cruel to consign them to my bedside drawer for another 23+ years, so, boys and girls and other, please feel free to pinch with my blessing.

Professional killer of immortals (e.g. people à la…

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How to Sell Short Stories to an Anthology By Deborah Walker

milfordsfwriters

2018-Young-Explorers-GenericFirst off, I’ll pepper these words with caution. This is how I do things. You might have a much better way of selling stories to anthologies. And if you do, could you please tell me in the comments.

SELLING WITHOUT SUBMITTING

Sometimes an editor will chance across a published story and decide it’s perfect for their anthology. Make it easy for them. Publish your contact information on the interwebs. A bibliography of your published stories with links is good, too. I speak from experience. A few years ago, I had no contact information on my blog, and an editor had to track me down via Facebook. I could have missed out on a Year’s Best sale. Thank you so much, Mr. Editor.

FINDING ANTHOLOGY CALLS

Search for anthology calls and guidelines on The Grinderhttp://thegrinder.diabolicalplots.com/. A quick search of markets gives twenty-eight  anthologies paying 1 cent per word or…

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